Friday, March 9, 2007


President Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir

Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir heads one of Africa's biggest and potentially richest nations.He was born into a peasant family in the small village of Hosh Bannaga, 150 kilometres north of the capital Khartoum. As a young man he later joined the army and quickly vaulted to the top of the command structure. He studied at military college in Cairo where he also became a crack paratrooper, later serving with the Egyptian army in the 1973 war against Israel.

President Bashir and former UN Secretary General Koffi Annan

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir came to power in an Islamist-backed coup in 1989. Since then he has introduced elements of Sharia law which are opposed by the mainly Christian and animist rebels in the south. His career has been marked as much by the civil war with the forces of rebel leader John Garang, as by his power struggle with Hassan al-Turabi, a prominent Sunni Muslim. His policy of Islamization of the Sudan and implementation of the Islamic Law (Sharia) has enraged and fueled the war in the South of the Country. Due to the misguided economic and political policies of his government, the economic downturn and the degradation of the state and social institutions in the Sudan continues.

With a population of 30 million and a land that stretches from the Sahara to the Red Sea and down to the uncharted swamps of the Sudd, Sudan is a diverse and fascinating country much of which remains unexplored. Sudan has vast archaeological treasures awaiting the intrepid traveller.

Over two thousand years ago the ancient Egyptians knew Sudan as the ‘Land of the Cush’ - a source of ivory, incense, exotic spices and gold. Such was the power and allure of its hidden treasures that for much of the intervening period Sudan has been the subject of invasion, exploration (most recently for oil), and conflict - including Africa’s longest running civil war.

Sunset on the Nile River

Entrance to Arkawit

Pelicans at Dinder Park

Bajarawia Pyramids

DAFUR GENOCIDE CRISIS: Darfur is a semi-arid western province of Sudan - Africa's largest country. Darfur alone is the size of France. Observers allege that Omar al-Bashir seems unperturbed with the Darfur crisis. He has denied reports that more than 200,000 people have died in Darfur, putting the death toll at under 9,000. President Bashir said he would only accept logistical and financial support for the current African Union mission.

A Janjaweed

He also reiterated his opposition to UN Security Council resolution 1706, which calls for 20,000 soldiers and police to be sent into Darfur.

"We will work with the UN as we have a lot of work with the UN, but this does not mean that we accept this resolution as it is a resolution that will return colonialism to Sudan," President Bashir

"The focus should be on implementing the [Abuja] agreement, and we do not accept the referral of the AU mission to UN Troops." President Bashir

Janjaweed on Horse back

Burunga Village in the Darfur region after a Janjaweed attack

Ex-Janjaweed fighter story
Ex Janjaweed fighter currently residing in London has told the BBC's Newsnight programme that the Janjaweed don't make decisions. The orders come from the government in Khartoum for the activities undertaken by the Janjaweed in the Darfur region, which included killings and rape. Most of the Victims are civilians, women and children. There are many rapes he recalls. But they don't do it in front of others. They take the victim away and rape them.

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